Felony cases decline

The Grand Valley has seen its share of high-profile crimes in the past month: a murder, a bank robbery, other armed robberies and burglaries, not to mention possible links between this community and an established gang in Northern California.

Despite all this, however, it appears Mesa County is steadily becoming a place with less crime, not more.

Felony case filings in the county through June are on pace to be lower than 2010. And last year produced the lowest number of felony filings in six years of steadily declining felony numbers.

There is no single, clear-cut reason for the decline. New laws and budget cuts for law enforcement certainly play a part. But attributing some of it to efforts to fight methamphetamine — as District Attorney Pete Hautzinger has done — certainly seems warranted.

Back in 2005, Mesa County Commissioners Janet Rowland and Craig Meis sought a better way to deal with a methamphetamine crisis in this community. Others were already working on that issue, so the commissioners teamed up with Hautzinger’s office, where Assistant DA Dan Rubenstein took the lead on meth issues, as well as law enforcement agencies, area judges and probation officers, to develop a plan for attacking meth.

That plan included a new drug treatment facility the county built that keeps most first-time meth offenders out of jail and works to get meth users clean, working and taking responsibility for their lives. The plan also includes new education efforts to prevent people from using meth in the first place, and tough police action and prosecution against those selling and distributing the drug.

The undertaking has undoubtedly played a part in reducing felony crimes. All those involved in implementing it deserve credit.

None of this means crime has disappeared, of course. The slight rise in reported crimes within the city of Grand Junction during the first six months of this year is troubling. At the same time, it’s welcome news that the Grand Junction Police Department will soon hire someone to once again monitor gang-related activity.

Still, the continued decline in felony cases in Mesa County is reason to recognize those people — in law enforcement, local government and other areas — who have helped make that decline occur.


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